Unabridged Class of ’71 Class Note – March 1, 2023
Continuing with our collection of pandemic reading recommendations, we have lots more suggestions!
Margot Keam Cleary: “It came out in 1994, but I only recently read T.C. Boyle’s novel The Road to Wellville, about the 'healthy food' movement in the US in the early 1900s. It taught me a lot about that era, and - bonus! - it’s very funny. I discovered the book after reading a profile of Simon Rich (the son of Gail Winston,’71) in which he mentioned that Boyle was one of his favorite writers. Since Rich is one of my favorite writers, it seemed like a good bet; which brings me to another recommendation: Rich’s collection of humor pieces, New Teeth. 'Learning the Ropes,' about a pair of pirates raising a little girl, is just about perfect."
Natalea Skvir: Alan Bradley’s “Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” (award-winning opener in a series about a 11-year-old girl sleuth in a 1950 English village). It has already been a hit with classmates on the Shafer Zoom call.
Kim Gottshall: Facing The Mountain by Daniel James Brown -- the story of Japanese Americans who fought in the Second World War while their families were forced to live in internment camps.
Marcia Williams: 1) The Mountains Sing, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, describing the experience of several generations of a Vietnamese family over 75 years, including invasion by the Japanese, the Communist Land Reform, the Great Famine, and the Vietnam War (called the American War there), in which families were divided between North and South. It portrays the complex history of Vietnam, told through the stories of strong women. 2) Home, Toni Morrison. (about a veteran of the Korean War, trying to cope with PTSD, who travels from his Army base in Seattle to his home town of Lotus, Georgia to care for his younger sister.) Set against a background of the racial and social structures of the 1950’s, it is a story of despair, family, and redemption, and coming home.
Nancy Laufe Eisenberg: If any of you took a class with the former US Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky, who came to teach at Wellesley in the late 60’s, I recommend his memoir Jersey Breaks. Fascinating! Particularly his description of his early years and his discussion of other poets.
I also recommend Ghanaian-American writer Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and Transcendent Kingdom.
Margi Reeve: The Daughters of Yalta: The Churchills, Roosevelts, and Harrimans, by Catherine G. Katz and The Brother Gardeners: Botany, Empire, and the Birth of an Obsession, by Andrea Wulf
Glenda Starr Fishman: I suggest The Sea by John Banville, which won the Booker Prize in ’05 (for best English language fiction published in the UK or Ireland - and back then had to be written by a citizen of the Commonwealth, Ireland, South Africa and Zimbabwe).
Ann O’Regan Keary: Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell – a fictional account of Shakespeare’s son, who died at age 11—a touching portrayal of grief and loss.
And in the general news category, Ann Sutphin Hafer writes: Tom and I celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary on 17 June 2022. In August, we had a “multi-versary” celebration with extended family at Mohonk Mountain House in New York state. Attendees included our daughter, Virginia Hafer Goodwin ’04, her husband Justin Goodwin and their children Lily and Kai, both of whom are in elementary school in Lincoln, Massachusetts. We welcomed our third grandchild on 4 November 2022, Lance Haiwen Hafer. Lance’s parents are our son Will Hafer and his wife, Kristy Feng, who live in Littleton, Colorado.
And Margaret Young notes: Life is very full these days. My main volunteer activity for the past few years has taken place at Adelynrood Retreat and Conference Center on 14 acres north of Boston. An organization of mostly Episcopal women own and run this century old space with the help of a small terrific paid staff. For four years I coordinated the gardeners and our fabulous gardens, planning, planting and weeding .Now I am in my fifth year coordinating the care of our buildings and the ever-needed repairs. We are gifted to have a fabulous facilities manager who actually knows how to do things! It fulfills my latent desire to be an architect.
The rest of the time I knit, read, garden, and do various arts and craft: other needlework, collage, botanical art, and urban sketching. I’m returning to the activities I most loved as a child. Making things and playing in the dirt. I am blessed with good health, four well-launched children and eight, soon to be nine fabulous grandchildren. They are scattered in MA, NJ, NYC, and CA.
Life is good and I am full of hope for the future.
And Ann Lents writes from Houston: I stay busy with chairing a local redevelopment authority (we rebuild inner city streets, waste and stormwater facilities, and particularly focus on creating bicycle and pedestrian pathways), and serving on the Houston Parks Board and the board of Texas Children’s Hospital. On the personal front my son David Heaney married Katy Hicks in May; they have moved from Seattle to Houston, bought a house a 10 minute walk from us, and expect their first child in May. I am ecstatic to have both children close for the first time in 20 years! My daughter Lizzie, her husband and 2 and 4 year old boys are also here, and also live within walking distance. We keep the two boys often, and they are both a joy and a handful for a pair of 70-year-olds. My husband David still has his family’s long time home in Normandy, and so we go every summer that we can to get out of the Texas heat, and enjoy small town French life.
Enough—life is good at an age I had thought would be tough!
And lastly, a little report on a sizable mini-reunion of several McAfee-ites in Manhattan in early November ’22 – first visit for many of us since the beginning of the pandemic. We gathered to socialize and enjoy some Broadway theater and museum exhibits, but one of the highlights of our three days there was being hosted for dinner at the lovely Carnegie Hill apartment of Christy Pennoyer, who treated us to two wonderful dinners in the cozy ambience of her place. As the pic below shows, the gathering was attended by (bottom row, left to right) Alice Melnikoff, Kate Kilborne Cornwell, Marcia Williams, and Christy Pennoyer ; (top row, left to right) Ann Clarke, ’70, Susanna Stevens Hamme, Glenda Starr Fishman (our master trip organizer, in center), Ann O’Regan Keary, and Susan Irving.